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Monthly ArchiveDecember 2007

trips Monday December 31 2007 08:32 am

Three Owls Press

On Sunday, December 30, Jill and I took a field trip to talk to Randolph Faulkner at Three Owls Press. We had a wonderful time looking at his wide assortment of letterpress printing equipment, assortment of type, listening to stories about incredible violins, and adding a new friend to our network. It turned out that Randolph was the grandfather of a recent and highly favored student when I was teaching at the University of Delaware.

trips Monday December 31 2007 08:29 am

Chris Manson / Henry Morris

On a drive to Washington, D.C. to pick up the APHA / Chesapeake Chapter exhibition at The Catholic University of America, Jill and I stopped by Crooked Crow Press to see what Chris Manson was up to. He was hard at work on a wonderful series of illustrations and a foldout using a very complicated arrangement of border type for a new book by Henry Morris at Bird & Bull Press. It is always nice to stop in someone else’s shop to see both what they have that is interesting (this time type specimen books and fanciful type) and also how they keep things organized. It also gave us a good idea for how to treat some type for a 2008 calendar we are trying to start (note we visited Chris on December 29th). Oh well. We’ll consider this a dry run at the Lead Graffiti 2009 calendar.

Studio projects Saturday December 15 2007 04:46 pm

Lead Graffiti holiday cards

This was our 2007 holiday card. Designed as a German bell we letterpressed four-letter words (hope, gift, love, snug) so that when the piece was folded up the words would follow across the folds. Nice to sit and play with the math for a while. They were mailed with a ribbon so you could fold, glue and hang the bell.

Printed in two colors plus an embossing that scored the piece for folding.

trips Saturday December 15 2007 09:23 am

Ritual, kids, & teaching

Jill and Ray of Lead Graffiti volunteer once a month to demonstrate letterpress printing at the Lancaster Heritage Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as part of their commitment to the .918 Club. On the 75 minute drive to Lancaster we’ve started to develop a nice ritual. We stop just up the road from Newark for lunch at the Country Cricket for soup or soup & sandwich. Great food and nice people.

We then drive through Amish country which is wonderfully slow. You’ll usually get ’stuck’ behind an Amish wagon several times (twice yesterday). Then to Strasberg, Pennsylvania where we stop at the Strasburg Country Store and Creamery. Jill always gets one scoop of ice cream in a cup and Ray always gets it in a waffle cone (thickest I’ve ever seen). We always try to have enough time to sit and enjoy each other’s company for a bit. Then check out the candy. We bought soft, chewy Christmas mints yesterday.

Then we drive into Lancaster and spend the rest of the day talking with anyone who wanders to the third floor print ship equipped as it would have been in 1920. Yesterday, we had these three printers (above) who were working with Jill on the model Franklin Common Press from about 1725. This is a model built by a Lancaster High School student. We are hoping to build a full-sized version over the next two or three years. The printers were great fun and wanted to do every little part on every press and wanted examples to take with them. It’s nice to think that they’ll remember the afternoon for a while and will have some keepsakes to pass along.

We staffed the shop yesterday with fellow club member Mike Donnelly of the .918 club from 2:30 until 8:30 pm. It was kind of a light day as it was cold and people were probably doing final holiday shopping, but we got a lot done, straightening up, putting away type and having all the time those that came in wanted to take.

Afterwards, we were hungry and stopped at Yorgo’s and had a late dinner. Food was wonderful. I think this will be the way we will end our Lancaster run rituals for a while.

Then, grab a hot chocolate and hit the road back to Newark. All in all an 11-hour day of fun, doing things we like with people we like. A nice way to spend a day.

trips Thursday December 13 2007 06:57 pm

A Star Wars Christmas

My son, Tray, is a fairly fanatical Star Wars fan and has recently acquired a serious Storm Trooper outfit. He is the one on the right working for the Salvation Army in Boulder, Colorado and he tells the following story.

“While bell ringing for Salvation Army on Saturday, December 8th we noticed this gentleman with his two kids and his son was dressed up is his Darth Vader costume complete with lightsaber. The gentleman walked up to us and had his son put a $5 bill into the bucket. He told us he got a call from a friend who had walked out our door, telling him we were there collecting money for SA and he drove up in the snow and bad weather just to bring his son to see us. Our Vader was impressed. The father had no intentions of shopping at Walmart but he did go in to get more change to put into the bucket. He stayed visiting with us for more than fifteen minutes. We love when kids are dressed up as one of us. It makes it all the more enjoyable.”

Armed bellringers just gives it all a homey touch, don’t you think?

Studio projects Tuesday December 11 2007 09:51 am

Histories of Newark 1758 - 2008

The year-long project of designing the Histories of Newark 1758-2008 is done and Wallflowers Press (our studio name before we changed to Lead Graffiti) has officially published its first book.

A few final details:

• an edition of 1,000 numbered copies

• 288 pages

• hard cover wrapped in Arrestox black cloth and foil stamped in two color
showing the King George II silver sixpence minted in 1758

• seventy-five stories

• fifty-six authors

• 1,409 photos including 3,767 current citizens printed in duotones (PMS 457)

• three and a half pounds

• fifty dollars

Studio projects Wednesday December 05 2007 05:25 am


We got involved with an interesting project to letterpress a copper engraving by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti is an American poet and painter best known for A Coney Island of the Mind, a collection of poems that has been translated into nine languages, with sales over 1,000,000 copies.

The project came to us from letterpress friend Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press. In the edition of 20 we printed the plate in four different colors for Ferlinghetti who will sign the edition. The prints will be sold to support a publisher in San Francisco.

And here is a photo of Lawrence signing the prints.

Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 & Studio projects Saturday December 01 2007 10:49 am

Histories of Newark: the binding

We are headed into the final stretch with the Histories of Newark 1758-2008. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Jill and I traveled to Ivyland, Pennsylvania, to visit Downey Hoster at Hoster Bindery to approve the foil stamping on the hardback covers, to get a personal tour of the facility, and to talk about final details with the binding and delivery of the book.

It was also our first chance to see the final folding of the book’s signatures and the nesting of those signatures. There are some details we wanted in the book to help give it some sense of being handmade. Two things we did were to print the book on two colors of paper—vanilla and white and to leave the front edge of the book rough.

The book is printed in eight-page signatures (sheets with four pages on one side and four on the other which are folded in half both ways to get he pages oriented correctly). There is one signature in vanilla with two signatures in white nested inside each other. That way the book has 8 pages of vanilla followed by 16 pages of white. We thought it would give the book some texture. The other thing we wanted was a rough fore edge (the edge away from the spine). There was no way to do the book with deckle-edged (rough) paper (we would have loved to do it in handmade paper but we wouldn’t have gotten the book for another 22 years and the cost would about the same as putting in a city subway system). Anyway that fore edge is left untrimmed and it looked exactly like we had envisioned it.
Everything we’ve heard about Hoster Binder has been positive and after the visit we see why. Top notch equipment, personnel, vision, and the ability to see ways to contribute that the designer / printer can’t see.

One very nice element that Downey has added to our book is to round the spine. It seems like a small detail, but after having the architecture of the book explained from the point-of-view of the spine it is a must if you can have it. Once we get the book we’ll show some photos and explain some of these details.
The critical moment right now is Friday, December 7 at 6:00 pm. The Histories of Newark group along with the Mayor is having an opening ceremony along with a booksigning. We hope a lot of the authors come and we kind of wonder if anyone will want us to sign their copy of the book.

The dust jacket is also at the printer and should be printed on Monday. Another detail we wanted was to do a full dustjacket that folded over on the top and bottom. The jacket designed by Jill Cypher ended up being a perfect solution. We used a hand-drawn map of the city from 1820 and overlaid images of Newark people into the house shapes. It does a wonderful job of mimicking the inside look of the book.

We are getting three sets of the book in all of its parts. Wallflowers Press is donating one to Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library, one to the Newark Historical Society, and we will keep one. Once we get into our new letterpress studio feel free to stop in and take a look. It is an interesting process and this book was done right from the very start.

Here is the dust jacket opened up. The worn edges of the map show on the sides.

Studio projects Saturday December 01 2007 10:48 am

Melvin “thank you” coasters

Letterpress has three things about it that are really nice.

1) You make SOMETHING. Concrete. You can hold it. Also nice that the type sticks into the paper.

2) You can do things that are absolutely personal without that much trouble. Honestly, buying a card doesn’t quite do it and an email doesn’t do it at all.

3) The process of both preparing for printing and for the actual printing are nice to do.

We hope some people get involved with Lead Graffiti, learn to use the equipment and then rent some time do do these kinds of projects on their own.

We had been invited to the Melvins for essentially what was Thanksgiving dinner except it was on Saturday. Somewhere in the conversation Rebecca mentioned it would be good to have coasters. So we decided to print them a set of coasters that you can see above.

We hope to start photographing the make-ready when the projects are handset and interesting. This one took about two hours.

You can buy blank coasters which we had done about a month ago. 4″ square is the size of these. These are the thickest ones.

Printed our our Chandler & Price 10 x 15 without any packing.